Week 6: Aid and Counter-terorrism

Francesco Vergari

The readings this week discuss the efforts by the United States to monitor control and reduce terrorist activities originating in various parts of Africa. As discussed by Alice Hills, the preferred method of combatting terrorism has been through the funding and equipping of African police forces. The realignment of US foreign aid in Africa has been directed towards combating extremism and shifting resources away from poverty, medicine and infrastructure, things that all will exacerbate grievances of the disadvantaged and serve as a recruitment base for terrorist groups. The records of the police forces benefiting from the increased attention of the United States have very dismal records regarding, law, corruption, human rights, brutality and impartiality. Police forces, such as Kenya often cater to the needs of the ruling elites rather than the rule of law and as such US aid will only expand their ability to act illegally and to do so on a greater scale. It is disappointing to see this shift in policy as it is designed to address US security interests but will likely serve to undermine them as citizens in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria will suffer extensive police abuse and thus resentment for governments. The US strategy will likely serve as a push factor for affected individuals and minority groups to gravitate towards extremism.

The article by Prestholdt further elaborates upon counter terrorism efforts in Kenya. Prestholdt recounts the focus of counter terrorist efforts upon minority Muslims of Arab and Somali decent. It is important to discuss as it is both a result of British Colonial legacy which disfavoured Arab Kenyans but also because US funded counter terrorism efforts reinforce and exacerbate these divides. The divides caused cashes as human rights and civil rights of the Muslim minority are continually violated and all attempts at reform are halted in their tracks. Prestoldt discusses many examples of discrimination and police brutality and violation of law as a direct result of US influence. It is important to consider as the US government under the Bush Administration promoted this type of counter terrorism around the world which means the effort to combat terrorism have indirectly lead to an increase in extremism, alienation and violence in particular in the Middle-East.  It is disappointing to see that what could have been meaningful efforts to combat he roots of terrorism and extremism were instead marked by division repression and resentment that will only result in an increase in extremist trends as can be observed arsing over the past decade.

Lastly, the account of Counter Terror efforts in Algeria and other parts of the Sahara is rather fascinating as it demonstrates the folly of justifying certain measures in the name of security. The fabricated account of Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists and subsequent efforts by US and Algerian security forces across the desert. Keenan goes onto discuss the individuals involved in this ruse ad the motivations behind doing so but it is interesting to consider as a means to justify military build ups in the name of security. Algeria for example was keen on exploiting the exercising as arms supplies had been cut off by European states and instead appealed to US interests in order to achieve the end of gaining arms supplies. Terrorism and extremism are very real issues that require substantial responses to be addressed, unfortunately all too often it is used as a veil to conceal or justify other motives. The claims of WMD possessed by Saddam Hussein are exemplary  if this reality. Expanding conflicts and wars are a danger to be sure, but all too often it is ordinary people whom have a stake in maintaining peaceful lives free of terrorist or far- right influences, as can be observed by the loss of livelihood by Algerians benefitting from Tourism in the Deep Sahara.

Discussion questions:

How do we promote more informed and critical perceptions of claims of Terrorist threats so as to not give credit to every claim presented to us by government?

Given that military focused approaches to counter-terrorism are shown to be exacerbate the issues motivating extremism, how do include humanitarian, educational and other means in order to more substantially address terrorism and extremism.

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